Ordinarily, the 9/11 attacks would not be thought to be the fit subject of a Broadway Musical. A Shakespearean-style tragedy, maybe. However, one such musical, called “Come from Away” is headed for Broadway after successful runs in Toronto and Washington D.C.

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The play tells the story of how 38 airliners filled with thousands of very confused and frightened passengers found themselves in the town of Gander, Newfoundland. The arrival of so many people happened when the American government ordered the skies over America cleared of all air traffic in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the heroic but doomed battle on Flight 93. The entire town, not numbering much more than their unexpected guests, turned out to house, feed, and comfort the refugees who were suddenly in their midst.

Critics Review Broadway-Bound 9/11 Musical Come From Away | Playbill - playbill.com
Critics Review Broadway-Bound 9/11 Musical Come From Away | Playbill - playbill.com

Gander, at least the one presented in the musical, has all the sorts of quirky characters that always populate small towns in productions like this one. The people from the sky and the people of the town bond, according to the synopsis, in various ways that are both uplifting and poignant. Gander was just one place among many where airline passengers became unwitting guests of the Canadian people in an operation that was coordinated by the Canadian government.

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However, the small Newfoundland town has got its own musical and the others have not.

The event was a bonding experience for the two nations who happen to share the same continent and an unusual one for the Americans involved. Usually, Americans find themselves giving aid and comfort to people in other countries who are beset by war or natural disaster. Rarely have people from the United States been on the receiving end of relief from people from other nations.

The experience was, no doubt, humbling.

The play concludes its runs in Washington and Toronto in October. A couple of benefit performances will take place in Gander. In February 2017 “Come from Away” will be staged in a series of preview performances on Broadway and will then begin its regular run in March at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater. Thus far the musical has played to favorable reviews.

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